x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Golf should not be an Olympic sport, says veteran Tom Watson

The eight-time major winner believes the presence of the sport at the Rio Games in 2016 will undermine the importance of the majors.

Tom Watson.
Tom Watson.

Former major winner Tom Watson has criticised plans to include golf at the 2016 Olympics, claiming it has no place in the Games.

The sport will make its first appearance in the Olympics in 112 years when it features at the Rio Games in four years time.

But while its return has been lauded by players and officials alike, Watson, who won eight majors in a storied career, believes its inclusion is a mistake.

"I don't want to pour cold water on it but I don't think it should be in the Olympic Games," he said today.

"I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you.

"We have our most important championships. You have golf in the Olympics. You have diluted the importance, in a sense, of the four major championships."

The 63-year-old admitted his views were unlikely to sit well with his fellow competitors but, speaking ahead of the Australian Open, he said he felt its inclusion went against his own idealistic belief of what the Games were about.

"I probably had a pie in the sky way of looking at the Olympics as being clean and pure," he said.

"I like to trust people and trust they are doing things for the right reasons.

"When the professionals go to the Olympics, they go for the wrong reasons ... I'm probably talking like a dinosaur."

Watson, who at 59 missed a seven-foot putt to win the 2009 British Open before he lost a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink, also felt the busy calendar meant the importance of several end-of-year tournaments were also being diluted.

"Our Tour is not being serviced enough by the top players," added Watson, who has been paired with 2011 champion Greg Chalmers and promising local Jake Higginbotham for Thursday's first round at the Lakes club in Sydney.

"We have six or seven tournaments at the end of the year. They were designated to be there and they are putting up $5 or $6 million (Dh19.1m to 23m) but they are a secondary tournament.

"Add the World Golf Championships to the mix, the four majors, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and all of a sudden you have 20 tournament that the top players have to play every year.

"You play 20 tournaments and you have 10 other tournaments to choose. But there are 30 other tournaments to choose from so 20 tournaments don't get the top players.

"What I'm saying is they make too many tournaments important and other tournaments are not getting a representative field."

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